Islamabad: Against the backdrop of a string of sectarian attacks that have killed dozens, President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday appealed to people to forget their "petty differences" and to fight the forces that want to surrender Pakistan at the altar of "narrow-mindedness" and "evil".
In a special message issued on the occasion of Ashura, the holiest day for the Shia community, Zardari said: "Today we have to reiterate our pledge that not only we will follow the teachings of Islam in our lives but will also fight with those forces who want to surrender Pakistan at the altar of narrow mindedness and evil for their selfish interests".
He said the people "have to forget our petty differences and have to adopt the highest teachings of Islam and promote the lofty goals of peace, security, brotherhood, patience and steadfastness".
Two bomb attacks targeting Shia processions in the northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan since yesterday killed 13 people and injured over 90, while 23 were killed when a suicide bomber targeted another procession in Rawalpindi on Wednesday.
The banned Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for these attacks.
Ashura, observed on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, marks the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and his 72 companions in Karbala.
Zardari urged Muslims to learn from supreme sacrifice of Imam Hussain and continue the struggle for triumph of good over evil.
In a separate message, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf too said the best way to pay tribute to Imam Hussain is to maintain unity and "make Pakistan a place of peace and security".
He said a battle between good and evil was going on even today in the country.
"It is unfortunate that those who believe in one Allah and one Prophet are divided in sects. Islam preaches solidarity, equality, brotherhood, goodness and security for the whole mankind, but some people are flaring up the prejudices of sectarianism," he added.
Ashraf said those sowing the seeds of sectarianism and extremism are well-wishers of neither Islam nor Pakistan.
The whole country is united to eradicate terrorism and "history testifies that the period of extremists and militant groups is not long", he said.